QinetiQ as a Tier 1 supplier to BAE Systems will contribute to the development of an airborne Unmanned Autonomous System (UAS) that will inform technology development for the UK’s future UAS capability.
BAE Systems has entered into a jointly funded first phase of a programme with the UK Ministry of Defence and will take the lead and work alongside the MOD and other key UK industry partners including Rolls Royce, QinetiQ, GE Aviation, SELEX Galileo and Meggitt, to deliver the Mantis UAS Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator programme.
The Mantis UAS programme will bring together technologies, capabilities and systems that will demonstrate the potential of a large unmanned aircraft to support future UK operational needs. The design and manufacture of the twin-engine Mantis and the associated ground control infrastructure is already underway. Assembly, vehicle ground testing and infrastructure integration testing will take place later this year, with first flight currently scheduled for early 2009.
Andy Sweetman, key accounts director for QinetiQ’s air business said: “QinetiQ has been actively involved in developing UAVs and associated systems with BAE Systems for many years and we are proud to continue this tradition by supporting the Mantis programme. QinetiQ has some unique capabilities in communications and flight termination that we believe will make an important contribution to this exciting UK endeavour. Working along side the MOD, BAE Systems and the other industrial partners, QinetiQ looks forward to assisting with the development of this important operational capability for the UK.”
Mark Kane, Managing Director of Autonomous Systems and Future Capability at BAE Systems, said: “Mantis is another important step forward in the development of UAS capabilities in the UK. The aim is to prove that the integrated technologies on Mantis, that build on several years autonomous UAS experience within BAE Systems and the wider UK industry, can provide the tangible military capability and levels of performance required for future UK UAS Operations.”
On behalf of the UK MOD, AVM Simon Bollom, DG Combat Air, commented: “Mantis is an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator that will provide an opportunity to exploit emerging technologies, capabilities and systems. Its rapid development will provide indicators of how we can improve the acquisition process to deliver capability swiftly into fast changing military environments. A development programme such as Mantis will also help maintain UK indigenous capabilities in this fast evolving area. We expect to see positive early results before deciding about further investment in a longer term programme.”
The Mantis benefits from low-cost advanced construction techniques developed on earlier BAE Systems UAS programmes and provides for a wide range of “plug and play” systems and equipment, as well as enabling flexible external stores carriage. A triplex flight control system will give high system reliability and integrity, with full exploitation of onboard autonomy reducing operator workload and increasing system performance. The novel design will also explore how low logistical footprint and ease of support could reduce through-life operating costs.